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The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    DSS Strives to Accommodate Student Needs

    Joanna Harris, Director for the Disability Support Services(DSS), supervises an effort to meet the needs of some 550 Stony BrookUniversity students who need special accommodations. In an effort to offer allstudents equal opportunities at the University, DSS provides assisted testadministrations, tutoring services and temporary psychological counseling.

    According to a DSS publication, the office hopes to’?advocate for a campus environment that meets the needs of students andemployees with disabilities.’

    Harris explained that most SBU professors cooperate with theDSS office, allowing those students who need extra support to be successful intheir courses.

    ‘?The biggest percentages of [SBU] professors aregreat,’ Harris said. ‘?When they get a letter from us, they respondright away.’

    Commenting on the range of services provided by the DSSoffice, Harris mentioned that SBU is unique in its attempt to accommodatestudents with special psychological needs.

    ‘?Four years ago, [SBU employees] started to see anincrease in students with psychological disabilities,’ Harris said.’?When I started [working as director of DSS], I created a program forstudents with psychological disabilities.’

    DSS’ staff includes a learning disability specialist,an individual whose function it is to address the needs of students withvarious types of learning disorders. The office also works closely with theUniversity Counseling Center, at times referring students to the Center as wellas to the University hospital.

    ‘?The biggest innovation in the last few of years hasbeen the program for students with psychological disabilities,’ Harrissaid. ‘?We do supportive [programs], group [therapies], and also we makereferrals to the Counseling Center.’

    According to Harris, DSS holds a special orientation priorto the start of classes for which the students arrive several days beforeeveryone else. The orientation serves as an introduction to the Universityenvironment, informing those with individualized needs of the numerousresources offered to them by the DSS office. Thus, these students are assuredthat they will be provided with specialized accommodations in order tofacilitate their intellectual development.

    ‘?My experiences with the DSS office have always beenpositive,’ said SBU graduate Daniel Fudge. ‘?The testingaccommodation service offered by the office is especially helpful for thosewith physical or psychological disabilities.’

    Harris noted that the SBU administration collaborates withDSS to ensure that every disabled student’s experience at the Universityis similar to that of anyone else. As an example of the University’swillingness to help those with special needs, she pointed out that there aremore than enough handicapped parking spots on campus designated to minimize thetransportation hardships of the disabled students.

    ‘?We have more [handicapped] parking spaces than thelaw requires,’ Harris said.

    As Harris pointed out, DSS expects students withdisabilities to actively request the necessary accommodations, whether theyneed extended test taking time, note takers, or tutors.

    ‘?One of the main services that we provide is theexamination accommodation,’ Harris said. ‘?If someone just needs extratime, the professors do that. But if they need a distraction free environment,we do it [at the DSS office].’

    Referring to the main goals of the DSS office, Harrissuggested that, above all, she and her staff are dedicated to ensuring thateach and every student receives equal opportunities to succeed at theUniversity.

    ‘?Basically what we do is try to level the playingfield,’ Harris said. ‘?[We m]ake it so that [students withdisabilities] have as much of a chance of making it at Stony Brook as someoneelse.’

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